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Old 12-24-2010, 10:13 PM
Colonial Paratrooper Colonial Paratrooper is offline
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Default General Jean De Lattre De Tassigny VS General Westmoreland

General Westmoreland was the American general who commanded in the Vietnam War. As most Americans know never lost a single major battle in Vietnam and seeked to fight the Vietcong in conventional tactics.

General de Lattre de Tassigny

When most people especially Americans and British analysts think of the Indochina War, they alway picture France losing every battle due to incompetent general.

However those who actually study the war in detail know that the French were actually winning the war under the command of the legendary General Jean de Lattre. He was so skilled as a general he was often called by other American generals as the French MacArthur.

February 2, 1889, the story of the man who was born on this date at Mouilleron-en Pareds will be intertwined with that of France. At the opening of the war in 1914 he was a lieutenant in the cavalry. He opted for the infantry and chose a regiment from the Vendée region. He was in combat everywhere. Wounded five times, cited three times. 1927: first in his class at the War College and soon France’s youngest colonel. He established a social service in his regiment. 1939, the youngest general. 1940, he saved the honor of France by defeating the Germans at Rethel. As soon as the armistice was signed he was thinking of revenge. Jean de Lattre is the only one to resist the Germans when they invaded the Southern Zone. He was arrested and sentenced to 10 years in prison. He escaped in September, 1943 and on October 17 flew to Algeria where he took command of what was to become the First Army. He captured the island of Elba and landed in Provence on August 15, 1944. What followed was a legendary epic: the liberation of 25 departments, victory at Colmar, crossing of the Rhine and victory as far as the Danube. On the 8th of May, 1945, Jean de Lattre signed at Berlin, in the name of France, the surrender of Germany. In 1949 he was the first commander in chief of the Armies in Western Europe. In 1950, he was named France’s High Commissioner in Indo-china and Commander-in -chief in the Far East. His presence alone brought thoughts of victories but his only son, Bernard, was killed on May 30, 1951, at the head of his Vietnamese troops. Jean de
Lattre died of cancer on January 11, 1952. The President of the Republic placed the Marshal’s baton on his casket at the Arc de Triomphe. Having "earned his country’s gratitude" Jean de Lattre is buried in Vendée next to his son, Bernard. Their epitaph reads simply "Died for France"

Who do you think would win in a battle?

No doubt in my mind it would be de Lattre. de Lattre won against impossible odds in seemingly hopeless using the limited number of troops and military resources he had.If Westmoreland was in the same situation De Lattre was in, he would have been wiped out from Vietnam very early. In fact if Westmoreland didn't have the most plenty of the most advanced weaponry in the world during the war, an abundance of some of the best trained troops in the world,support from President Johnson, and an extensive air mobility capability he would have lost most of the "victories" he had in battles he commanded in Vietnam.

De Lattre was the commander in chief in Indochina during the 1950s. Westmoreland failed to learn from de Lattre's tactics and strategies such as winning the hearts of the Vietnamese population (de Lattre was creating special programs to convince Vietamese people not to join the communists). De Lattre masterfully blended mobile warfare, counterinsurgency warfare, trench warfare, and several forms of unconventional warfare. Westmoreland only relied on the conventional warfare doctrines such as using heavy firepower to defeat enemies.

Also Westmoreland only commanded on the strategic level and never actually commanded in the tactical scale during a battle. He was commanding in a nice cozy air conditioned building throughout a the entire Vietnam War. De Lattre on the otherhand on several occasions actually literally willingly went into the battlefields when things seemed hopless. He would enter the battle zones (where he risked getting hit by artillery or shot down by snipers) and stand strong and fearless, inspiring his men. His presence alone in hopeless battles would suddenly give a panicking demoralized pessimistic French army a feeling of victory will come and high moral. Once he was in the battlefield, French soldiers would no longer be panicking and would actually be eager to face the enemy and be courageous enough to counterattack.

Additionally de Lattre never had the political support at home he needed to actually effectively fight his war. He was already lacking sufficient manpower and equipment needed to fight the Indochina War when he first volunteered to serve in Vietnam.. Yet against impossible odds he defeated the Vietnamese with amazingly low casualties while inflicting heavy casualties on the VIetnamese (in the battle of Vinh Yen, the first battle he commanded in the Indochina War, French casualties were only 56 dead and around 200 wounded while the Vietnamese had over 6,000 dead!)! Westmoreland had all the political support from President Johnson and was able to get as much troops and technology he believed he needed to fight in Vietnam untile the final phases of the Vietnam War. Westmoreland was never handicapped in the way de Lattre was!
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